Monthly Archives: September 2012

on not being domestic

I’m really not domestic.

You probably guessed as much by the fact that I feel the need to document every culinary success (see: Kellers Cook series). If you haven’t been over to our apartment, you may not even know that the walls are bare, save the Bolivar poster that got scotch-taped up some months ago and never moved. There’s also that little matter of the baby nursery, which still looks exactly like our guest bedroom.

It should come as no surprise, then, that a well-timed, nutritious, tasty dinner is a big accomplishment for me. (You families who do this 6 nights a week amaze me.) Sunday night I planned the week’s meals, wrote a shopping list, AND remembered to start defrosting chicken for Monday’s dinner. It was such a promising start to what was sure to be a week full of successful domestic feats.

Here’s a little snapshot of how last night went down. Laugh with me, please:

4:30pm: Get ambitious, plan to add apple crisp to dinner menu
4:35: Call mom for apple crisp recipe
4:50: Sneak out of work early, complete fastest grocery trip in human history
6:00: Groceries unpacked, preheat oven, slice apples
6:10: Jon home, cleans bathroom
6:20: Barbecue chicken goes into the oven, still slicing apples
6:30: Track down recipe for rice pilaf, think to self, “Add cheese & broccoli to make it better.”
6:31: Completely forget about broccoli
6:40: Start pilaf 10 mins too late, hope kitchen miracles will happen and rice will cook in 10 mins
6:45: Chicken done, apples all sliced, rice burning
6:50: Jon to the rescue, stirs rice while I add cheese, asks “Where’s the broccoli?”
6:52: Sit down to dinner of cheesy rice pilaf sans-broccoli and oh, look, the chicken’s still pink.
6:54: Chicken back in the oven, sit down to dinner of only cheesy rice pilaf sans-broccoli
7:03: Chicken done for real
7:04: Doula Kathryn arrives for our prenatal meeting. (I’m sweaty & wrist-deep in apple crisp topping)
7:07: Apple crisp in the oven, talk with Kathryn about Jack’s birth, get really excited to meet him
7:40: Apple crisp finished. It tastes good! Victory!

At one point, Jon reminded me gently that he loves me more every second like Gmail’s ever-increasing storage megabytes counter, so technically, he loved me more after discovering the chicken was undercooked than he did when he thought it was baked enough. I’m sure your husband is great, but in that moment, mine earned husband of the year.

I may not be naturally inclined toward being domestic, but I’m getting there. One day, I’ll produce a perfectly-timed dinner (including dessert). And when I do, trust me: you’ll hear about it.

Apple Crisp Recipe (from Mom)

4 c. or 6 medium apples, sliced (I used Jonamac and Granny Smith, skins on)

1/3 c. butter, softened

1/2 c. flour

1/2 c. oats

2/3c. brown sugar, packed

3/4 tsp. each of cinnamon and nutmeg (Modification: 3/8 tsp. cinnamon, 3/8 tsp. pumpkin pie spice)

Fill a 9×9 pan with apples, mix the rest until crumbly, sprinkle on top. Bake 30 mins. at 375F.


that time I met Mrs. Hughes

Jon and I were a little late to the game.

Downton Abbey’s second season (or series, as they call it in the UK) was already airing on BBC America by the time we finally found series 1 on Amazon Prime this past January.  We fell hard for the most endearing characters (Mr. Bates), developed some serious negative feelings towards others (Thomas and O’Brien, we’re looking at you) and got swept up in all the plot twists and turns (Free Bates!). While humming the dramatic main theme as the credits rolled on each episode, we’d exchange a glance that simply implied, “Another!”

We caught up quickly on series 1 and proceeded to purchase and crank through series 2, only to be devastated by the news that they’d only just begun filming series 3. While the other side of the pond begins airing that this month, we Americans have to wait until January 2013.

Fast forward to this week, in which the release of the Series 3 preview on coincided with Babymoon 2012 (our vacation to Miami). Needless to say, I’ve been thinking about Downton this week. I spent most of the day poolside in delicious 87-degree weather, relaxing and reading, along with some other hotel guests…including these two next to me:

It’s okay. Took me a minute, too. Here, try this:

I know, right?! Mrs. Hughes from Downton Abbey and Mr. Gibbs from Pirates of the Caribbean, as portrayed by Phyllis Logan and Kevin McNally! Sitting on lounge chairs next to me! Wearing swimsuits! In Coconut Grove, Florida, of all places!

When I finally connected the dots, I quickly posted on Twitter and Facebook (naturally). And then you people all wanted me to say hello to them and I got nervous just thinking about it.

I have this thing with celebrities. I don’t like to call unnecessary attention to them. They’re real people. They lead actual lives–at standards I cannot fathom, often including choices I might not make–but I just can’t bring myself to ask for an autograph or picture no matter how starstruck I am on the inside. (When I met Josh Duhamel in high school, I so overcompensated that I literally acted disinterested/unimpressed while he autographed the notebook I proffered.) This strange mindset likely stems from my embarrassed reactions to the times that others bring up Parent Trap. It depends on the day, but when that happens, my reaction typically falls somewhere on the spectrum of: “Yep, I really was in it; I was 10.” to “Oh my gosh this is so embarrassing. Let’s stop talking about it as quickly as possible.”

So. Right. I projected all of that onto these two people at the pool in Florida. I didn’t want to make a big fuss. I did want Phyllis, especially, to know how much we love Downton Abbey and her character in particular. I figured I’d casually tell her on my way out of the pool area and secretly hoped they’d leave first.

But in the end, it was Phyllis who approached me. While Kevin had stepped away, she noticed my baby bump and asked in her thick Scottish accent when I was due. I told her November. She asked where I was from and why we’d come to Florida. I did not ask her the same in return but cautiously observed, “And you, you’re enjoying a holiday?” She nodded and said they’d come from England. I nodded too knowingly and gave myself away, which led to: “You have to forgive me, but…you’re Phyllis Logan, yes?”

Her jaw dropped, clearly shocked she’d been recognized. She immediately tried to fluff up her pool-soaked hair, but I just laughed with her and told her how much we loved Downton Abbey. We chatted a bit more until Kevin came out, at which point Phyllis looked back and said, “We’ve been spotted!” The three of us continued talking about baby Jack (she asked if that was after Jack Sparrow…no) and children in general, Downton (it took 6 months to film series 3; I didn’t get any plot hints), Kevin’s work in Florida (bit part in Burn Notice), Life Floor, and the marriage conference Jon and I are attending this weekend. I learned they’ve been together 18 years but only got married last year – Kevin has a tattoo on his left shoulder to commemorate it. They seemed like such lovely, kind people. They wished me luck with the baby and I wished them a pleasant rest of their holiday. And that was that.

In case you were wondering, Mrs. Hughes is gorgeous in her swimsuit.